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Tolling Points

Electronic Tolling, Managed Lanes, and Interoperability: Summit Will ‘Kindle the Fires of Creativity’

By: 
Bill Cramer

Bob Redding and Gregory LeFrois are Co-Chief Meeting Organizers for IBTTA’s 2015 Summit on All-Electronic Tolling, Managed Lanes & Interoperability, July 12-14 in Miami, Florida. In this interview with Tolling Points, they talk about the astonishing progress over the last year in all three theme areas.

Tolling Points: The U.S. tolling industry has been surging ahead in its work on interoperability. What milestones can participants look forward to hearing about at this meeting?

BR: With IBTTA’s assistance, the last year has seen a surge of work on interoperability, including development of technology requirements, back office business rules, and interface formats, selection of a testing organization, and ongoing work on the governance and branding needed to make interoperability feasible over the long term. At this meeting, we’ll get updates on all of these initiatives, including the recent determination that at least two of the proposed protocols have been selected for further testing.  

GL: IBTTA and its member agencies are really leading the way in this area. The work on national interoperability continues, and the Summit will also touch on many examples of regional interoperability that have already been put into practice. We’ll learn about the issues some of our colleagues faced and the solutions they came up with to make these projects successful.

Tolling Points: The general session July 13 will look at what it takes to get an AET project to opening day. What has the industry learned about the key ingredients of a successful project?

BR: The most important ingredients include careful planning, early (and continuous) outreach, exhaustive testing, and support from senior management and elected officials. Some of the earliest adopters went through the pain of not having all of these ingredients in place. More recent projects have built on that experience, leading to smoother opening days and ongoing operations.

GL: I’m looking forward to moderating this session and hearing our panelists share their experiences with some complicated, very unique, and highly successful projects. A common theme is that all projects need support, and plenty of it, from both the community and elected officials. Financing can usually be found. Technical challenges can always be solved with sound, creative engineering. But a project will never fully succeed without public and political support. 

Tolling Points: How have managed lanes matured as an approach to reducing congestion and financing mobility, and what new developments do you expect to hear about at the Summit?

GL: As managed lane projects have multiplied and matured, the benefits have been proven: We now have solid evidence that pricing specific lanes on a freeway (or a toll road) can help manage demand, allowing for relatively uncongested travel along very congested corridors. Coupled with other congestion-busting concepts such as bus rapid transit, park & ride lots at BRT stations, telecommuting, advanced traffic management, and intelligent transportations systems, managed lanes are a wonderful tool in the toolbox for managing demand and increasing the capacity to move people and freight.

When it comes to financing, the use of managed lanes is discretionary, which makes them very difficult to depend on for consistent and significant revenues—their purpose is to change travel behavior by inducing people to carpool, take transit, or change their normal travel times. But revenues generated by managed lanes can still help cover operations and maintenance costs, pay for some or possibly all capital improvements, and possibly help pay for other modes of transportation along a corridor. We will hear of many examples of managed lane operations, technologies, successes, and struggles, and they all have lessons to share.

Tolling Points: IBTTA conferences are always a great opportunity for tolling professionals to learn from their peers. What do you each hope to take away from your hallway conversations this year?

BR: We’ve brought together a great group of speakers and moderators who can illustrate practical or innovative solutions to front-line problems. This should generate more fruitful and interesting interactions in the hallways—and at the breakfast table, the evening events, and the exhibits. The program also includes a fun, engaging roundtable activity Sunday afternoon that will involve teamwork, and prizes. The purpose is to get participants thinking big, networking and hearing the one idea (or two, or a few) that they can take back and use to make a difference in their own agencies.

GL: We want to make a difference in participants’ understanding of the various topics at this year's Summit. We hope to generate enough interesting kindling to start the fires of creativity, so that people are better prepared to address their agencies’ ever-changing transportation needs back home. We believe we’ve created a program and environment that will spur much discussion and provoke much thought.

It isn’t too late to sign up for IBTTA’s 2015 Summit on All-Electronic Tolling, Managed Lanes & Interoperability.

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